Every gamer at some point in his or her life wants to buy a projector for gaming. Earlier, projectors were mostly used in offices and educational organizations. However, advancements in projector technologies have enabled manufacturers to create projectors specifically designed for gaming. These projectors can project images fast enough without causing any noticeable delay to the gamers. Choosing a projector for gaming can be quite tricky considering the various options available in the market. The most important factor to consider in a gaming projector is its input lag.
Input Lag – Why It Matters?
Input lag defines the time between when the projector receives an input signal (an image) and when the projector outputs it on the screen. The projector has to process the input signal which is in digital format and output an optical signal using its DLP, LCD or LCoS chips. The processing takes time which causes the delay. If a projector has to upscale or downscale the input signal to its native resolution, the input lag may increase further. Features such as dynamic iris and pixel shifting can also add to the input lag.
Input lag is calculated in milliseconds. On an average, projectors have an input lag ranging from 30 milliseconds to 100 milliseconds or more. High input lag can cause the audio and images in a video to appear out of sync. The audio might play before the corresponding imagery is displayed on the screen.
Input lag of a projector is more consequential for gamers as they have to interact and react as per the on-screen imagery. They might have to press a button at the precise moment for scoring a goal or headshot. If the on-screen imagery is delayed due to significant input lag, they might miss the window of opportunity especially in games that rely on split-second timing like first-person shooter titles. It can be the difference between winning and losing.
Out of sync audio and video can be rectified using an audio delay feature found in projectors, but it is not possible when gaming. Therefore, input lag becomes one of the prominent factors to consider when buying a gaming projector. It is highly recommended to choose a projector that has input lag under 50ms (milliseconds). Projectors that have around 30ms input lag are ideal for most games. Hardcore gamers who expect nothing but the best can consider a projector that has an input lag of under 20ms.
All projectors are not equal. Some may perform better at games while others are designed for watching movies or giving presentations. If gaming on a big screen is your thing, then here are the top five best gaming projectors of 2018 that you can consider.
5. Epson HC2150
The Epson HC2150 is an affordable projector which is ideal for gaming and watching movies. It is a 3-chip LCD projector with a native resolution of 1920×1080 pixels and a refresh rate of up to 60Hz. It comes with a brightness rating of 2,500 lumens which is ideal for dark rooms as well as those with low ambient lighting.
It has an input lag under 30ms (with frame interpolation off) making it a great option for playing different types of games including first-person shooters. Connectivity options include two HDMI ports one of which supports MHL for devices like smartphones, a VGA port, a USB port, and an audio-out port. It comes with an inbuilt 10W speaker.
The lamp of the projector has a rated life of 4,000 hours in standard mode and 7,500 hours in eco mode. The projector is packed with many features including a 1.6:1 zoom lens along with vertical lens shift capability of up to 60%. It uses frame interpolation for facilitating a smoother movie viewing experience and also supports 3D.
The Epson HC2150 shares most of the features with the Optoma HD39Darbee but has better 3D performance and black level production. Overall, the HC2150 is a more feature-packed projector for movies. However, its higher input lag and inferior 2D image quality put it slightly behind the Optoma HD39Darbee when it comes to gaming.
4. Optoma HD39Darbee
The Optoma HD39Darbee is another excellent gaming projector. It is a 1080p projector that features Optoma’s DarbeeVision technology for improving image quality and sharpness. It makes use of the DLP (0.65” DC3 DMD chip) technology to project images. The native resolution of the projector is 1920×1080 which is great for gaming.
It comes with a brightness rating of 3,500 lumens and contrast ratio of 32,000:1 making it suitable for rooms with moderate ambient lighting. Its lamp has a rated life of 4,000 hours in bright mode and 10,000 hours in ECO mode.
The projector has an input lag of around 34ms on an average which improves to 16ms in Enhanced Gaming Mode. It has one of the lowest input lags which will satisfy even the most demanding gamers.
The HD39Darbee features two HDMI 1.4a ports (one of which supports MHL) to connect your consoles and devices. It has a standard throw ratio ranging from 1.4 – 2.24 and can produce images ranging from 26.2” to 301”. It supports vertical lens shift function and 1.6x optical zoom for flexible projector placement. The projector has 3D capability enabling you to have an immersive experience. It comes with a 10W speaker, but it won’t enhance your gaming experience.
The Optoma HD39Darbee is a great projector for gaming with its low input lag and excellent color production. It is available for a relatively low price in the market making it a great buy and earning it the fourth spot on this list. Its 3D image quality is slightly inferior to the Epson HC2510. If 3D is a priority for you, then consider the Epson HC2510 which has a slightly higher input lag but better brightness and color production in the 3D mode.
Buyers who prefer a projector with a shorter throw ratio can consider the GT1080Darbee from Optoma which utilizes the same DMD chip. It has a throw ratio of 0.49 and an input lag of 16ms in Enhanced Gaming Mode but has lower brightness and contrast ratings of 3,000 lumens and 15,000:1 respectively. It also lacks zoom and lens shift capabilities.
3. Sony VPL-VW285ES
The Sony VPL-VW285ES is one of the best 4K projectors for gaming in its price segment. It has a native resolution of 4096×2160 and makes use of Sony’s 3-chip LCoS (SXRD) technology to project images. It can output up to sixty frames per second at 4K enabling a smooth gaming experience provided you have the machine to back it up.
The projector comes with a 225watt lamp rated for 6,000 hours of operation in ECO mode. It has a brightness rating of 1,500 lumens in high mode making it suitable for rooms with low ambient lighting.
Sony provides a preset Gaming Mode in the VW285ES projector which along with the Input Lag Reduction feature yields an average input lag under 40ms (1080p gaming) which is acceptable for regular gaming. Even when gaming at 4K, the input lag will not differ significantly.
There are three HDMI 2 input ports provided enabling you to connect up to three different devices simultaneously. All HDMI ports support HDCP 2.2 enabling transfer of 4K signals from the latest consoles and set-top boxes.
Sony’s VPL-VW 285ES has 3D and HDR capabilities enabling an immersive viewing experience. It features a motorized zoom lens (2.06x) and has a vertical lens shift of up to 85% and a horizontal lens shift of up to 31%. There is no lens memory or dynamic iris, but the projector still produces great black levels. Its excellent color output and decent brightness levels also make it one of the best projectors to watch movies.
Its low input lag, sharp image projection, and respectable performance earn it the third spot on this list of the best gaming projectors. If you need a gaming projector that can also handle 4K playback for movies, then the Sony VPL-VW285ES is a great projector for you.
Individuals who have money to spare can consider the VPL-VW385ES projector from Sony which has similar input lag and specifications but comes with features like dynamic iris and lens memory.
2. BenQ HT2150ST
The BenQ HT2150ST is a projector made specifically for gamers. It is a 1080p DLP projector with a native resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. It has an average input lag under 17ms in Game Mode and a refresh rate of 60Hz at 1080p making it one of the best projectors for gaming.
BenQ claims a brightness rating of 2,200 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 15,000:1 for the HT2150ST making it ideal for environments with low ambient lighting. The lamp has a rated life of 3,500 hours under normal mode and 7,000 hours in Smart Eco mode.
It can project clear images with a diagonal size ranging from 60” to 120” providing a large viewing area. There are two 10W speakers inbuilt into the projector, but it is best to connect a surround sound system. It doesn’t have lens shift function but comes with manual zoom (1.3:1) and vertical keystone correction. There are two HDMI ports, a VGA port, and 3.5mm audio-in and audio-out jacks rear side for connecting devices.
Another advantage of the projector is its short throw ratio ranging from 0.69 to 0.83 allowing it to project a 100” image at a distance of 1.5m from the screen. It is advantageous for the gamers as it allows them to install the projector in front of them and minimizes the chances of objects or people coming in between the projector and the screen.
The BenQ HT2150ST checks all the right boxes when it comes to gaming. It uses a six-segment color wheel while the Optoma HD39Darbee uses a five-segment color wheel. As a result, its image quality and color production are great for gaming and watching movies, though the Optoma HD39 Darbee boasts of a higher lumens rating.
The 3D support of BenQ HT2150ST is a bonus. It doesn’t have 4K but have a affordable price. If you are a hardcore gamer looking to play fast-paced games on a large screen, then the BenQ HT2150ST is the projector for you.
If you need a projector for environments with moderate ambient lighting, then BenQ’s TH671ST DLP projector is another alternative option with a brightness rating of 3,000 ANSI lumens but a contrast ratio of 10,000:1. It is in the same price segment and has features similar to HT2150ST including 3D picture support.
1. Epson 5040UB
The Epson 5040UB emerges victorious on this list because of its all-around performance. It is equally good for watching movies and gaming. The 5040UB is a 3-chip LCD projector with a native resolution on 1920×1080. It makes use of the pixel shifting technology for projecting 4K and 2K content.
Epson claims a brightness of 2,500 lumens and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 for the 5040UB projector. Its lamp has a rated life of 3,500 hours in high mode and 5,000 hours in eco mode. The projector has received significant upgrades since it was initially released and now boasts of a 2.1:1 zoom lens and upgraded dynamic iris. It has lens memory with ten different settings making it easy to switch aspect ratios.
It has an average gaming lag of 30ms which will satisfy all but the most demanding gamers. It also supports the picture in picture mode that enables you to play videos from two HDMI devices simultaneously on the screen. A few gamers might find this feature quite handy.
The Epson 5040UB has a low input lag and projects images with excellent quality. It also has the 4K capability and supports HDR and 3D. Considering that the latest gaming consoles feature Blu-Ray playback capability, it is a great option to buy if you watch lots of 4K movies. While the Sony VW-258ES is a better projector for movies, it lacks dynamic iris and has a higher input lag as compared to Epson’s 5040UB and won’t perform as well when gaming. If you are searching for a gaming projector with 4K support, then the Epson 5040UB is the way to go.